By Peter Alexander
It will be a week of superstars in Boulder.
First will be famed Wagnerian soprano Deborah Voigt, presenting her one-woman show Voigt Lessons at Macky Auditorium on Saturday. Then the University of Colorado Boulder’s own superstars, the Takács String Quartet, begin a spring series of concerts in Grusin Hall with some of the stars from the CU Boulder music faculty Sunday and Monday. And next Wednesday, Feb. 22, Yo-Yo Ma presents a concert in Macky that, alas for latecomers, has been sold out for months.
Voigt’s one-woman show was written for her by Terrence McNally, the Tony-, Obie- and Emmy-award winning playwright, screenwriter and librettist for musicals and operas. A brutally honest retelling of her struggles during her career, the show is, Voigt says, “very much a story about a Midwest girl who turns out to be an international opera diva.”
The script includes songs that are especially meaningful to Voigt — most of them not operatic or art songs. “When people come to the theater, they’re not given a list of songs,” she says. “I want them to be surprised.”
She does reveal that she opens with a Carpenters song, “because I was a huge Karen Carpenter fan, and that’s the music I listened to. There is an art song and a definite nod to opera, of course.”
Voigt Lessons is based in part on Voigt’s 2015 book, Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-To-Earth Diva. Both the book and the show are remarkably frank about Voigt’s problems with weight, with addictions, and with relationships. “I just wanted to be honest about everything that had happened,” she says.
She’s pretty sure everyone will enjoy the show. “It’s going to be an entertaining evening,” she says. “There are some laughs, maybe a couple of funny expletives, there’s some drama. It’s a very intimate show.”
The Takács Quartet opens its spring series of six concerts performing with percussionist Douglas Walter and clarinetist Daniel Silver, both CU faculty members, Sunday and Monday Feb. 19 and 20. The concert will open with Beethoven’s String Quartet in G major, op. 18 no. 2. Walter will play Michael Colgrass’ Variations for Four Drums and Viola with Takács member Geraldine Walther, and Silver will join the full quartet for Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115.
That pattern of that program — guests from the CU faculty and one Beethoven quartet — will continue in the other concerts this spring. “We are so grateful to have so many talented artists and wonderful people to collaborate with on the music faculty,” Ed Dusinberre, the quartet’s first violinist, says. “This year we decided we would, more than usual, make them a feature of our programming.”
The collaboration with CU faculty is important to the quartet, because it gives them opportunities to perform music that otherwise is difficult for them to put together. “We decided to feature pieces here (in Boulder) that we wouldn’t so easily be able to do on the road,” Dusinberre says.
“When we’re on the road, there’s not a lot of time to rehearse. Those (pieces with CU music faculty) are the sorts of pieces that we wouldn’t typically get together on the road.”
The Beethoven quartets on the concerts form a small sample of the full cycle of the composer’s 16 quartets that the Takacs are playing at Wigmore Hall in London and various places in the U.S. As associate artists of the Wigmore, they were invited to perform the full cycle during the current season.
The Beethoven performances also tie in to Dusinberre’s recently published book, Beethoven for a Later Age: Living with the String Quartets, a highly readable personal recollection of Dusinberre’s experiences with the quartets that also provides remarkable insights into the lives of professional quartet players.
The upcoming concerts March 19 and 20 will feature Beethoven’s final String Quartet in F major, op. 135, and Haydn’s String Quartet in F major, op. 77 no. 2. Walther and guests Abigail Nims, alto, and Margaret McDonald, piano, will perform Two Songs for Alto, Viola and Piano by Brahms.
And on April 30 and May 1 the quartet will play Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat major, op. 18 no. 6. Soprano Jennifer Bird will perform Chausson’s Chanson perpétuelle with the full quartet and Alexandra Nguyen will perform Clara Schumann’s Three Romances, op. 21, with Dusinberre. That program and the spring concert series will conclude with Schubert’s much-loved “Trout” Quintet, with David Korevaar, piano, and Paul Erhard, double bass.
Read more at Boulder Weekly.
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Deborah Voigt, soprano
7:30 p.m.. Saturday, Feb. 18, Macky Auditorium
4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20
Grusin Music Hall, CU Imig Music Building